Thursday, August 23, 2007

Christ and Culture, no. 1

I intend to post more on this issue, one about which I care much and have dedidicated much thought. But John Piper's reflections on this theme are so very useful (and so very Piper). You can read the whole here, but a salient quote: "The fact that Christians are exiles on the earth (1 Peter 2:11), does not mean that they don’t care what becomes of culture. But it does mean that they exert their influence as very happy, brokenhearted outsiders." And all I can say to this is, yes.


Wayne said...

John Piper has to be one of the most passionate, persistent, and persuasive apologists alive today. He has a way of communicating Biblical Truths in such a way that inspires and motivates one to ACTION. I appreciate his ministry and take full advantage of the resources he offers to those of us who follow Christ.

Nicholas T. Batzig (Called N.T. by certain antagonistic friends) said...


That is a great quote. Thanks for posting.

Nick Batzig

Dave Linton said...

I don't know, Sean. I went back to get the exact quote from Abraham Kuyper. "No single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not exclaim: 'Mine!'" This sounds more consistent with the great commission. Both Kuyper and the commission cetainly expect us to be "very happy" but I am not so sure about "brokenhearted" or "outsiders."

Baus said...

Dave is on the right track.

Piper's article does not present sound exegesis or a biblical conclusion. He correctly points out the fact that if something is American, that does not make it Christian, and that Christians must not be selfish or arrogant. However, the article concludes “We (Christians) don't own culture, and we don't rule it.”

This erroneous conclusion is the inevitable outcome of Piper's belief that “Christ died for sinners so that all things might one day belong to his people” (emphasis mine). Piper assumes that all things will belong to God's people only after the consummation.

Certainly God's people before the consummation have but a foretaste of their full inheritance in Christ. However, since presently all things belong to Christ, all things belong to those who are in Him right now. This is the clear teaching of Scripture: “all things belong to you” (1 Cor 3:21-23). This is a present reality for everyone in Christ!

Piper's denial of this present reality leads him to advocate a view of Christian cultural influence that amounts to little more than attempts at moral persuasion. However, it is God Himself who commands us to rule, and who created us for that very purpose (Gen 1:28, 2:15). So we are not in the service of American culture (as Piper would have it), but in the service of Jesus Christ.

There is no "winning" or "losing" for Christians in their cultural task. As aliens and strangers in this age, we groan under the temporary subjection to corruption. And we have a heavenly citizenship for which we gladly suffer as we obey our Lord's call to cultivate and keep His creation in all its depth and diversity: from parenting to politics, from art to aerospace, from scholarship to surfing. We must not reduce Christian cultural influence to moral witness.

God has given us culture and the sacred task of ruling it. Culture does belong to us, and we exercise dominion in Jesus' name. Affirming this biblical teaching does not produce “swagger,” and denying it will certainly not encourage biblical piety.

Dave Linton said...

Well said baus. I agree completely. The problem with citing the I Peter 2:11 passage is that it takes the words "sojourners and exiles" out of context. We are "sojourners and exiles" to "passions of the flesh." We are rather a "holy nation." We should live as such as Christ commands. Thank you.